Osteoarthritis and osteoporosis share the prefix osteo, which comes from the Greek word for bone (osteon). What follows that prefix makes these two often-confused terms very different.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis that affects joints and cartilage. Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass. An individual can have either or both conditions.
There is one thing these two conditions have in common: Physical therapy can play an important role in the treatment plan for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
The doctors at ProFysio Physical Therapy in Monmouth County have experience in helping clients gain strength and flexibility despite being diagnosed with either condition.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
According to the National Institutes of Health, osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the United States. Age, hormones, genetics, poor diet, and lack of exercise are among the factors that can contribute to the condition.
Osteoarthritis commonly affects the neck, lower back, hands, knees, hips, and feet. The condition can damage the soft tissue around the joint including cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and synovium. Bone spurs may also grow on the edges of the joint.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include the following:
- Joint Pain
- Joint Swelling
- Joint Tenderness
You might also detect a crunching sound, almost like the sound of bone rubbing on bone. If the spine is impacted, you could feel numbness in the arms and legs.
People age 50 and older are more commonly diagnosed, but younger people can also develop osteoarthritis. Earlier diagnosis usually happens in relation to a joint injury, abnormal joint structure, or genetic defect in the cartilage of the joint.
Osteoarthritis and Physical Therapy
Arthritis physical therapy can improve joint function by reducing the pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joint. The experts at ProFysio Physical Therapy can utilize various tools and techniques that address an individual’s specific needs.
An arthritis treatment protocol might include the following:
- Graston Technique®
- Ultrasound Treatment
- Electric Stimulation
- Low-Impact and Strengthening Exercise
Our patient-tailored protocols are designed to increase joint range of motion, strengthen the muscles that support the affected joint, and improve posture so that excess stress isn’t placed on the joints.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass, leaving bones more vulnerable to breaks and hairline fractures. Most people have their peak bone mass at around age 35 and begin losing mass after age 50. Half of all women over the age of 65 have osteoporosis. Men can also develop osteoporosis, particularly after the age of 70.
Like osteoarthritis, osteoporosis is common among Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 million people in the U.S. have osteoporosis, and almost 44 million have low bone mass (osteopenia).
Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include the following:
- Excessive Alcohol Drinking
- Family History
- Thin or Small Frame
- Certain Medications
- Low Calcium Intake
- Lack of Physical Activity
Osteoporosis is painless, leaving many people not knowing they have the condition until they break a bone. Bones can become so brittle that a sneeze can cause a fracture.
Osteoporosis and Physical Therapy
Weight-bearing exercise stresses the bone, making it stronger. Keep in mind that low bone density and inappropriate exercise is a dangerous combination. Exercise should only be performed under the direction and watchful eye of a physical therapist. The more severe the osteoporosis, the more exercise restrictions must be followed.
After evaluating the severity of osteoporosis and other factors, a treatment plan for on-site therapy is designed. At-home exercises to increase bone strength may also be provided.
In addition to weight-bearing exercises, strengthening muscles for improved balance is also important. Better balance means fewer falls and less chance of breaking a bone.
Living a More Active, Pain-Free Life
Being diagnosed with osteoarthritis or osteoporosis does not mean you are resigned to pain and reduced enjoyment of life. With the help of physical therapy, you can stop some symptoms in their tracks, regain strength and mobility, and feel more like yourself again.
Contact us today for a free initial evaluation. We will assess your medical history and listen to your chief complaints and goals. We can customize a physical therapy plan for you. Call (732) 812-5200 to schedule.